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Worth A Look: 12.82%
Pretty Bad: 30.77%
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5 reviews, 9 user ratings

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Nativity Story, The
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by William Goss

"Mary, Mary, Anything But Contrary"
3 stars

A couple of guys on camels follow their precursory GPS system to Bethlehem with every intent of regifting some frankincense and myrrh to a young mother whose womb bears the alleged son of God Himself. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for, say, three days or so, you’re likely plenty familiar with what archaic quote whores referred to as “the greatest story ever told,” and if details are still sketchy, director Catherine Hardwicke’s film adaptation of 'The Nativity Story' sufficiently conveys the flimsy narrative of the Immaculate Conception as an agreeable enough adaptation.

Despite a needless jump forward to the (non-graphic) slaughter of newborn males, the proceedings are pretty straightforward, as Mary (Keisha Castle-Hughes, Whale Rider) finds herself being hit on by angel Gabriel (Alexander Siddig, Syriana) and is soon preggers, to the dismay of skeptical husband Joseph (Oscar Isaac). However, once Gabriel brings him around to her way of thinking, the humble couple soon journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem under the order of anxious King Herod (Ciaran Hinds), and… well, I wouldn’t want to spoil anything now.

Meanwhile, across town, the Three Wise Men – Balthasar (Eriq Ebouaney), Melchior (Nadim Sawalha), and Gaspar (Stefan Kalipha) – find themselves prompted by a prophecy to also journey towards Bethlehem, bearing gifts, bickering constantly, and making for the closest thing to comic relief this tale has to offer.

Helmer Hardwicke (Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown) and writer Mike Rich (the atrociously trite Radio) tackle the story of the world’s most infamous exception to abstinence with relative tact, so while the story itself isn’t dramatically ripe, their presentation of it isn’t as overtly preachy as one might fear. In fact, the pair seems to play it safe in every facet and they consequently fashion a glossy Christmas origin story that reveals the conception and birth of Jesus Christ for the slight melodrama it really is. A solemn Castle-Hughes makes for a mildly affecting Mary, while Shohreh Aghdashloo is in adequate awe as Elizabeth. However, it is the understated performance of Isaac as Joseph that resonates more than most of the ensemble, a conflicted husband and sudden surrogate father whose concern and devotion works on a realistic level rather than a righteous one.

For the devout, 'The Nativity Story' might make for a suitable Sunday school substitute of sorts, while us cynics simply can’t help but acknowledge the drive of dollar signs that propels this movie’s very existence more so than any sincere enthusiasm for telling this tale. Still, the passive result is certainly harmless enough for both heathens and believers who don’t want to risk testing their faith in the least. Besides, how does that whole thing about to err and to forgive go again?

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originally posted: 12/15/06 16:01:38
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User Comments

1/13/09 Anonymous. obviously really good story :], nice to look at and worth a watch.. 4 stars
12/30/08 John Sullivan A moving story told intelligently. A yearly must 4 stars
11/25/07 g webster a wonderfully done story on the birth of Christ,faithful and well acted 4 stars
11/17/07 jared this was a wonderful presentation of the birth of Jesus. I loved every second of this film 5 stars
1/14/07 Millie Maelstrom At least they're still making Christian movies in the post-Mel Gibson era! 4 stars
12/22/06 erik great movie, moved me to tears 5 stars
12/15/06 Joan Fumento I Thought it was Wonderful, it filled my heart with joy and hope, we need more like this. 5 stars
12/06/06 Matthew Carratt I can't see how the story could be told any better, or beautifully. Very real. Loved it! 5 stars
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  01-Dec-2006 (PG)
  DVD: 20-Mar-2007



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